Sunday, June 22, 2008

Another Butterfly Adventure

It's that time again. I've been working at home and at school growing plants for the butterflies. My plan is to have the school butterfly garden full of Milkweed plants in full bloom when the kids arrive in August. It will be just in time for the Monarch Butterflies! I've got over 100 plants at my house and at school and I check on them and take care of them every day. Well last Thursday I popped in at the Outdoor Classroom and as I was walking up to feed the fish, I noticed something on the Dill Weed that I had planted. I have planted Dill, Fennel, and Basil in hopes of maybe attracting Swallowtails to lay their eggs on these plants. The Swallowtails are all over the place around here but I have never seen a caterpillar before so I thought it would be fun to see if attracting the larva is as easy as it is to attract Monarchs. I came right home and began researching this caterpillar! Low and behold it IS Swallowtail caterpillars! Of course, I'm going nuts because there are no kids to share this experience with! But I am documenting it and will show them in the lab as soon as they come back. (To see a close-up, click on each picture)

This picture shows just how small they were! Geoff came home from work that day and I had the pictures up on the computer blown up so I could see them easily. So when we went to look at them again, he just busted out laughing that he had no idea how small they really were!

So here's a blow by blow of the progress so far...

Friday ~
Still pretty small!

Saturday ~
Finally starting to look like a Swallowtail caterpillar!

Sunday ~
Much bigger!

And when I came back to look at them this afternoon... they had 2 new neighbors and about 6 eggs waiting to hatch!

And just imagine, all this excitement is going on in this little clump of Dill Weed! I really enjoy watching Nature at work. I have ordered a Butterfly tent to hopefully transfer the caterpillars into before they finish their development. Swallowtails tend to wander off before they turn into a chrysalis and I really want to see the whole process!

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